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Hi all. I'm looking at a new Outback. The XT really isn't in the budget right now, so I'm looking at a Premium. If I decide I can afford one, that is probably the direction I will go. Everyone in the forums and YouTube generally agrees that you are risking your family's lives every time you take them on the highway in the car. My question is how does the 2.5 compare to previous 2.5s? I owned a Gen 2 and currently own a Gen 3, both manual transmissions, and I have some experience with a CVT Gen 4 2.5s. I have never driven a Gen 5. I would say the power in those is adequate, though not ideal. In real-world use, the Gen 4 is the fastest, followed by the 3, followed by the 2.

Some back of the napkin math suggests that the Gen 6 will be a little slower than the Gen 3 and probably about the same as the Gen 2. I live at 5,000' and work at 10,000' so the car will see a 125-mile round-trip commute going up and down. The car will have a large roof box that will never come off. In my experience, the Gen 3 is fast enough with one person when you can keep the engine deep in the powerband. If the engine falls off a boil or I'm too lazy/tired to really work the car, it's not fast. Throw a bike or two on the roof with four passengers and it struggles.

Fuel economy is definitely a concern. In real-world, round trip driving, the Gen 3 gets about 25-28 mpg and the Gen 4 roughly the same (23-29, though I can't explain the range). Generally speaking, the Gen 4 is a little worse than the Gen 3, but it probably was more loaded. A friend with a 2010 3.6 consistently gets 25 on the same drive. The point of all this is MPG is important, but the smaller engine isn't necessarily more efficient. After all, moving the same mass at the same speed requires making the same amount of power.

I'm not interested in hearing your experience about how slow your automatic Impreza is, different cars.

Something else that I noticed recently is a used 3.6r goes for about the same price as a new Premium. I may start a second post pondering that option. Pre-COVID I would try to spend some time in different cars. It's a little harder now. I would need to find a dealer that will let me take a car on a couple hour test drive before I commit. FWIW, this car is replacing a Suburban, not the Gen 3 Outback.

Thanks for your insight!
 

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We have only had a 19 and 20 Outback, both Premiums, but different generations and different engines. Aside from the engine being quieter and smoother and really achieving 1mpg better (30 after 19K miles on the 19, 31 after 14K miles in the 20, fuelly in my signature) which matches epa estimates, the 20 does feel a little stronger than the 19. Yes it still gets deep in the rpm band climbing hills, but also has no problem accelerating and passing slower traffic going up hills. Realize it's just two of us with no rooftop box and most of the time at 7,000 foot elevation or less. Yes a 3.6 or 2.4T would be stronger. Your idea of doing an extended test drive is really the best way to decide. A good dealer will let you do a BCA Borrowed Car Agreement.

Coming from a Suburban, are you sure you want an Outback? If the XT is not in the budget, then a Premium Ascent probably isn't either, but maybe a base Ascent is? Other than that, from what you have described and based on the general impression I get from others on this forum, it seems a late model 3.6 might be the best option for you. Let us know how it works out.
 

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I've only had an experience once with a 2017 2.5, and it wasn't bad but I definitely wasn't a big fan of it under load. While gen 6 2.5, is rated for 33, Gen 4/5 3.6 are rated for 27 highway.

So if your mostly highway driving, very rarely have more then just you, the 2.5 would be a good choice. However, honestly,I would just pick up the older 3.6. You'll get a lot of the same features as gen 6, but a more powerful engine. The MPG difference is the only real downside to getting the 3.6, which would be about 100 miles per tank. Which if you were driving a suburban prior you are still gaining 25-30% in overall fuel efficiency (maybe more depending on your Surbaban's condition) with the 3.6.

Edit: As a note, if you are looking at a Premium, if you are getting one with Navigation, I would just keep an eye out for a potential Onyx then because the base Onyx is the same price as a Premium 2.5 with navigation. Without those features, the base is like 6K less though.
 

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Coming from a Suburban, are you sure you want an Outback? If the XT is not in the budget, then a Premium Ascent probably isn't either, but maybe a base Ascent is? Other than that, from what you have described and based on the general impression I get from others on this forum, it seems a late model 3.6 might be the best option for you. Let us know how it works out.
Or a used 2019 Ascent.
 

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I'm not interested in hearing your experience about how slow your automatic Impreza is, different cars.
Interesting you mention this. Anytime my wife drives my 2017 Impreza, she comments how "zippy" it is compared to her 2012 Outback. (Gren4 with the ol' EJ engine)

I agree with her. My Imp is MUCH lighter than her lumbering OB. The power/weight ratio is far better in my Impreza.
 

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Can’t report personally as an owner on the OBXT, but my 2017 FXT was super at altitude, and a turbo might serve you well. IMO, the 2.5, NA engine, regardless of which generation, is underpowered in the OB at sea level, and loaded climbing will be struggling all of the time. With the CVT it will sound like a blender about to blow up.

For me, not a mountain or loaded up daily driver, the turbo performance curve got old. Truthfully, if you don’t punch it it’s never smooth, but always great passing or climbing. So I traded to one of the last 3.6 2019 Touring around. I found the 3.6 to be perfect for my driving style. Smooth as butter at any speed, never bogs, always powerful enough, but not spry like a turbo when punched.

Reading your list, I’d save for the OBXT.
 

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I traded to one of the last 3.6 2019 Touring around. I found the 3.6 to be perfect for my driving style. Smooth as butter at any speed, never bogs, always powerful enough, but not spry like a turbo when punched.
I wonder if the 3.6 will become somewhat of a coveted car - the last of the Subaru H6. I had the 3.3 in the SVX and it was a sweet torquey turbine-like engine and no doubt the 3.6 was at least as good.

Since then I've had 3 Subaru turbo-4 engines and can attest that none of them are smooth as a 6 or have the immediate low end torque. I still like turbos though, and would choose the turbo 4 again. A turbo 6 even better!
 

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you are risking your family's lives every time you take them on the highway in the car.
I generally hate this hyperbole whenever I hear it. There are many cars out there with less power and longer 0-60, especially smaller older cars. The Prius, Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent all have 0-60 of more than 10 sec. Yet I have yet to come across a car accident where any of these cars have collided while merging onto a highway. Speed isn't a problem as long as you know how its going to drive and anticipate it. I haven't had any troubles with my old Impreza and my wife's Fit with merging onto our TX highways @ 75-80mph.
 

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We have both a 2016 gen5 2.5 premium and a 2020 gen6 2.5 premium.
Both almost identical in terms of equipment/extras.
To me, and my kid ( who is mainly driving the gen5) there is no noticeable difference in terms of power between the two.
 

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I generally hate this hyperbole whenever I hear it. There are many cars out there with less power and longer 0-60, especially smaller older cars. The Prius, Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent all have 0-60 of more than 10 sec. Yet I have yet to come across a car accident where any of these cars have collided while merging onto a highway. Speed isn't a problem as long as you know how its going to drive and anticipate it. I haven't had any troubles with my old Impreza and my wife's Fit with merging onto our TX highways @ 75-80mph.
Of course.
Just look at the accident rate of the two engines, or the insurance premiums.
I am pretty sure the higher hp engine has a higher accident probability.
 

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My first car was a 1978 Ford Fiesta, 66 horsepower, 0-60 in 11.2 seconds. Never had a problem with it being too slow, but I enjoyed wringing every last newton of energy out of the tiny engine with a manual transmission, with speeding tickets being the reward.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks all, these are great so far. I haven't really considered an Ascent. I looked at one briefly a year or so ago. I thought it would be an Outback with more cargo space but that's really not the case at all. I thought back seat comfort was not good and it's about as wide as my Suburban, though obviously shorter. In 19 years, the third-row has been in my Suburban three times, the rest of the time it is just used to haul a lot of stuff.

I hear you on the Impreza and I'm probably picking up a 2012 from a friend for my daughter. However, they're not that quiet or comfortable. If I got the Impreza for me -- which I've strongly considered -- would make the Gen 3 our "big family car" and that won't work, and both our cars would be Subarus north of 100k miles. I don't want to be in a situation where I have two car payments at the same time. Also I'm concerned about limited ground clearance on the Impreza and deep snow. My friend with the Impreza also has a Crosstrek (he's selling the Impreza to buy another Crosstrek) and I've seen him struggle driving in deep snow where the Suburban had no issues. But, maybe could work. It's a workable 5-6 days a week, but that other day is a problem.

So it sounds from everyone's experience that the internet lore of the 2.5 being dangerously slow is just that and probably mostly comments from people who aren't comfortable really wringing out the engine. My experience with the older 2.5s is they have practically zero passing power, but with a CVT can get from Denver to Vail at 80 mph without difficulty and it sounds like the new ones are the same. If I have the opportunity to drive one or do buy one I'll report back. 90% of the time they get the job done. The other 10% is very short highway entrance ramps or passing on two-lane roads where you need to plan passing. My sailboat with trailer probably weighs 500 lb. at most, so towing isn't really a concern.
 

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I went from an '08 2.5NA 5MT to a '20 2.5NA. I enjoy driving a manual but at 180k miles, it was time to trade it in and we needed something with more cargo space. I would say the new one is equivalent in acceleration. The CVT takes some getting used to and I do miss that direct connection that the manual provides. Fuel economy is better with the new one. I'm only at 1,000' but we have had no issues passing when needed. It's not quick like my wife's Mercedes E350, where a slight push on the accelerator awakens the torque gods and the car hits 90 before you know it. But it gets the job done.

That said, if you want something with ample passing power and acceleration, the 2.5NA is not for you. If you are okay with the power in your Gen 3, then the new one will suffice.
 

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My experience with the older 2.5s is they have practically zero passing power,
There are inevitably going to be "slow" cars and "fast" cars. Not all cars can or need to be "fast"; if that were the case there wouldn't be any need for passing. If you're in a 2.0NA or 2.5NA @ 5,000+ft, you need to get out of the mindset that you are the fast car. You are the slow car. Why are you even needing passing power? Sorry, but that's the reality. If you want to go fast, then you should buy the bigger engine or turbo. Not all cars are meant to be passing monsters, and that's okay.

Only time you need to pass is if someone in front is going like what, 10mph slower than you? If that's the case, it shouldn't be that hard to pass because you're already going 10mph faster. Again, you don't need tons of power for that.
 

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I had a loaner for a week... I couldn’t tell much difference from the previous gen for the 2.5 ... I liked it better than any of the gen4 cars I had driven with the 2.5, but I’m not a long time owner of either.

It had enough oomph. Was a nice ride.
 

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You won't like the 3.9 mileage from what I have read. Driving at 10K ft altitude screams out "get a Turbo". I have a 2.5 Limited and not regretted this decision but have not driven it much at altitude except once at ~5,500 ft; this vehicle did fine for me. In the past I raced some of my cars.
 

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So it sounds from everyone's experience that the internet lore of the 2.5 being dangerously slow is just that and probably mostly comments from people who aren't comfortable really wringing out the engine. My experience with the older 2.5s is they have practically zero passing power, but with a CVT can get from Denver to Vail at 80 mph without difficulty and it sounds like the new ones are the same. If I have the opportunity to drive one or do buy one I'll report back. 90% of the time they get the job done. The other 10% is very short highway entrance ramps or passing on two-lane roads where you need to plan passing. My sailboat with trailer probably weighs 500 lb. at most, so towing isn't really a concern.
"Everyone's experience" isn't a 2.5 Outback climbing from Denver to Vail. You really need to get in a 2.5, drive up the hill, and decide for yourself. My fiancee's daughter has a recent 5 door Impreza at Minturn. It's a bit wheezy but it gets the job done.
 

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I’ve been satisfied with the 2.5 in my 2011 Outback and my 2019 Forester in all situations aside from when I have a full car. The car does drive a little more sluggish then. I have a light foot so I am curious if the XT’s quirks will be less of an impact to me.
 
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